By Megan Barber, Grocery Manager, Wellness Buyer, Co-op owner
It is common knowledge that staying hydrated in summer months is key to feeling in tip-top shape. When our bodies sweat, we cool down, but we also lose electrolytes. Electrolytes are key minerals that we get from food and drink which help keep our organs in areas like the digestive system, the nervous system, the heart, and the muscular system working the way they are meant to. Electrolytes keep our bodies running smoothly!
The most common ways we lose electrolytes is through sweating, often from intense exercise through working out or physical work in general. Additional ways we can lose these important minerals is through illnesses that involve diarrhea and vomiting. We must replace them when lost to keep hydrated and recover faster. This is why we see electrolyte drinks or powders, like Ultima brand, for fast workout recovery and drinks, especially for kids, like Kinderlyte for when we are sick. Water is typically the most readily available source of electrolytes. Coconut water is also a commonly chosen drink since it does not contain many sugars. Sports drinks can be full of added sugars, flavors, and dyes, but they also contain added key electrolytes and sometimes carbohydrates that your body can use to maintain hydration. It is best to avoid carbonated drinks, juice, and energy drinks though.
If we do run too low on electrolytes, we can start to feel cramping (most common), dizziness, confusion, and even an irregular heartbeat. A key way to know when to replenish your minerals is to pay attention to your body’s natural thirst cravings. Drinking two cups of fluid about two hours before and after performing physical activity as well as four to six ounces during is often recommended.
Staying hydrated during the warm weather is key to having a great summer. Stay hydrated with your favorite drinks throughout the day and especially when doing anything strenuous like work or exercise.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. As always, if you are considering a new supplement, or if you are experiencing an ongoing health issue, you should consult your physician or pharmacist. If you are concerned about your electrolyte balance, please consult your primary care physician.